Popular creche festival is gift to Arizona community

MESA, Ariz. — The annual Christmas Nativity Display, sponsored for the community by the Mesa Arizona East Stake and held in a historic downtown LDS chapel, was co-hosted for the first time with its neighbor — the First United Methodist Church of Mesa.

More than 10,000 people attended the event, held Dec. 1-3. The churches, located on corners of an intersection across the street from each other, had different parts of the display at their buildings.

The LDS chapel was filled with hundreds of crches and live musical concerts throughout the three-day event.

Inside the Methodist church, visitors were able to view more than 1,000 different Bibles dating back to the 14th century. There was also a live Nativity outside with people depicting the scene of the birth of Christ, and in the background were a live camel, as well as sheep, goats, donkeys and cows.

"This has become a great community service and civic event," said Gary Brown, co-chair of the nativity display. "It worked out very nicely to have the two churches working together."

Other churches, school and community groups also contributed to the displays and musical presentations. Co-chair Lanny D. Owens said that at least 18 denominations "combined their talents, their time, Nativities from all over the world, music, and the display of Bibles as a gift to their community.

"There is a genuinely warm friendship that has been built between us," he said.